Notes: McBride remains a specialist

Notes: McBride still a specialist

ATLANTA -- There may come a time when the Braves can confidently place Macay McBride in more than just a situational relief role. But for now, it appears the young southpaw's best role will be as a situational lefty.

Since needing just one pitch to retire Ryan Howard in his brief -- but important -- Opening Day appearance, McBride has struggled mightily with his control. In his past two appearances, the 24-year-old reliever has thrown 59 pitches, and just 26 of them have found the strike zone.

While the wintry-like conditions might have played a factor in the struggles he experienced in Philadelphia on Thursday and at Turner Field on Friday night, McBride isn't ready to use the elements as an excuse.

"You've got to be better than the cold weather," McBride said. "What are we going to do, not pitch when it's cold?"

While Braves manager Bobby Cox doesn't seem to be overly concerned about McBride's recent control problems, he was well aware of the fact that it took the young left-hander 24 pitches before recording his first out against the Mets in the eighth inning of Friday night's 11-1 loss.

"That's pretty tough to do," Cox said.

When McBride entered Friday's game, the bases were loaded and there were two outs. Like against Howard on Monday, his assignment was to negate the power of the opposing team's strongest left-handed batter. But after getting ahead of Carlos Delgado with a 1-2 count, he hung a curveball that the Mets first baseman turned into a two-run single.

David Wright and Moises Alou, both right-handed hitters, followed with a double and a walk. By the time he finished the eighth by getting Jose Valentin to ground out, McBride had allowed two hits, issued two walks and thrown just half of his 24 pitches for strikes.

"The walks are very disappointing," said McBride, who has issued six walks in his past 1 2/3 innings. "To me, they are inexcusable."

McBride entered this season confident that he'd fixed the control problems that caused him to issue 20 walks in the 26 2/3 innings he logged before last year's All-Star break. After the break, he pitched 30 innings and issued just 12 walks.

"We'll be fine," said McBride, who issued three walks while recording just one out in Thursday's win over the Phillies. "I just expect to be better."

Arm-testing Sunday: Before Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Mets, the Braves will get a better idea of how their starting rotation will shape up over the course of the next few weeks and months.

Lance Cormier will test his strained right triceps muscle by playing long toss, and Mike Hampton is scheduled to throw a bullpen session that will give him a better idea of what to think about the left elbow discomfort he's felt this week.

Hampton is hopeful the soreness is just a product of coming back from the Tommy John elbow surgery he underwent 18 months ago. But for now, it appears the Braves are crossing their fingers and just hoping that the veteran left-hander will be able to rejoin their rotation some time in May.

As for Cormier, he's confident that he'll be ready when he becomes eligible to come off the disabled list on April 15.

Boyer sidelined: Right-handed reliever Blaine Boyer has suffered an oblique strain that will likely keep him from pitching at Triple-A Richmond until at least May. He began feeling the discomfort after his final Grapefruit League appearance.

Urban Meyer to attend Sunday's game: Before he became one of college football's top coaches, Urban Meyer was a shortstop in the Braves' Minor League system. In fact, when he played with the club's Gulf Coast League team in 1983, his roommate was Mark Lemke.

According to Lemke, Meyer, who led his Florida Gators to a national championship in January, will attend Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Mets.

After having Meyer as his roommate, Lemke returned to the Gulf Coast League in 1984 and was introduced to his new roommate, a young kid named Tom Glavine.

Record-setting loss: Friday night's 11-1 loss to the Mets was the worst defeat the Braves have suffered in a home opener since moving to Atlanta in 1966. The last time the Braves had suffered a double-digit loss to the Mets in Atlanta was Aug. 14, 1979, when they endured an 18-5 thumping.

Coming up: The Braves will send Kyle Davies to the mound to oppose Orlando Hernandez in Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Mets. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.